Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William “Butch” Ramirez expressed confidence that this batch of Filipino athletes that will see action in the Tokyo Olympics is more than prepared to make the country proud when the Games open on Friday, July 23.
Ramirez said that more than P2 billion of taxpayers’ money were spent for the training, foreign exposures and other expenses of the athletes since 2016.
“The 19 athletes we have, sa pananaw ko, this is the strongest and most prepared (contingent),” said Ramirez during an online press conference held Monday, July 19.
“That’s why malaki ang expectations ng taong bayan kasi people’s money ang nagastos diyan. At hindi lang maliit na pera, but that is the way to prepare the athletes (for the Olympics).”
Ramirez is scheduled to fly to Japan on Thursday, July 22 – or a day before the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, although he said that he keeps a daily monitoring on the status of COVID-19 pandemic.
Ramirez considers going to Tokyo a “high risk” but he said that this might be unforgettable for Team Philippines with the possibility of winning the elusive first Olympic gold medal.
“Going there is not a fiesta, it’s a high risk. I’m praying and hoping that none of the athletes get infected. It’s not easy going, I’m monitoring (the situation of COVID-19 in Japan),” said Ramirez.
“It’s historic, as presiding chairman, I might be a witness of the first gold.”
Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting), as well as world champions Nesthy Petecio (boxing) and Carlos Yulo (gymnastics) lead the bid of the Philippine Team campaign in the Tokyo Olympics.
Also part of the national team contingent is US Open women’s winner and Asian Games gold medalist Yuka Saso (golf), together with world silver medalist Eumir Marcial (boxing), and world No. 6 EJ Obiena (pole vault).
Completing the cast of 19 Filipino athletes in the Games are swimmers Luke Gebbie and Remedy Rule, sprinter Kristina Knott, rower Chris Nievarez, weightlifter Elreen Ando, skateboarder Margielyn Didal, air rifle shooter Jayson Valdez, judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa, boxers Irish Magno and Carlo Paalam, and golfers Juvic Pagunsan and Binaca Pagdanganan.
Ramirez said that if he pushes through with his scheduled flight to Japan, he is definitely staying until the end of the Tokyo Olympics to make sure that as the representative of the government, he would be able to provide assistance if needed by the Philippine Team contingent.